Any reader who immerses themselves in the world of their story will know when the author has failed to do so before them. Signs such as closed doors later banging shut and similar inconsistencies will add up. It is something the reader feels rather than figures out, and it thwarts their efforts to imagine the world they are in.
When I write, immersion is achieved through the metaphor of a camera.
Recently I’ve been playing with where this virtual camera is located. Hovering it in the corner of the room results in a different writing style compared to shoving it close over the shoulder of an active character. In ‘The Jasper Chronicles’, the camera is the point-of-view character’s eyeballs.
I’ve found that the closer the camera gets to the action, the grittier and more intense the descriptions become. I tend to incorporate a broader range of senses as well. But this slows the narrative down and will miss out on events outside the field of vision or even the character’s attention.
Getting into a character’s head also applies a filter. Writing from the perspective of a character familiar with the current environment blocks my tendency to describe it. Choosing to shoot from a character that has been dropped into the same environment for the first time will bring the reader’s focus to the things that grab that character’s attention. And it’s not just a new—old filter. A character interested in food, will relate a scene differently to a character interested in fashion.
At this stage of my writing, I’m ‘shooting’ scenes from a single character and riding on the momentum of the scene. But recently I’ve been considering re-writing scenes from multiple cameras so that during the editing process I have the opportunity of splicing ‘footage’ together as well as removing unnecessary frames.
My greatest concern is how to signal the reader when a camera has changed without throwing them out of the story. Please post any suggestions you might have in the comments section.
Artwork made with these elements:
Camera by Isabel Sierra from the Noun Project
Person By Road Signs, GB
Combination of elements by Tim Marsh
Image copyright as per The Noun Project